Well, I never thought I'd do a songfic. Sometimes, though, an idea just won't leave you alone. This was one of those. The characters aren't mine. They are the brilliant creation of Donald Bellisario. The song is also not mine. It's by Harry Chapin. Hope you enjoy.
And the Cat's in the Cradle
My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say 'I'm gonna be like you, dad.
You know I'm gonna be like you.'
Bud Roberts closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.
'Just for a minute,' he told himself. 'One minute won't hurt.'
He slowly counted to sixty, breathing deeply of the air still laden with the tantalizing scent of the pot roast Harriet had served for dinner, then opened his eyes and returned his attention to the papers in front of him. There was a list of potential witnesses for his current case and he was carefully matching each witness to the statement they had given. He reread each statement, noting comments he needed to clarify and additional questions he wanted to ask. Never again would he be accused of negligence. Every detail would be cataloged, referenced, and cross referenced so as to be close at hand when needed.
A soft sniffle interrupted his concentration and he turned to located its source. His four year old son, AJ, stood next to his chair, clutching the large, red rubber ball that Colonel MacKenzie had brought over when she babysat the previous week.
"Play with me, Daddy?" the boy asked, his large eyes hopeful.
"Daddy's really busy right now, AJ," he told him, indicating the books and papers covering the table in front of him. "Why don't you ask Mommy to play?"
"Mommy's busy, too," AJ answered, looking towards the kitchen door. Bud could hear his wife in the other room, cleaning up the dishes from their evening meal as she hummed softly to the radio playing in the background.
"Why don't you go help her?" Bud suggested.
AJ bounced the ball as he considered. Suddenly, he brightened.
"Can I help you?"
Bud smiled indulgently. "Sorry, son, but this is very important work. Maybe Mommy can play when she's finished with the dishes."
"But I want YOU," the little boy insisted.
"Not right now," his daddy answered. "Some other time…I promise. Okay?"
He reached over and patted the boy on the shoulder as he returned to his work, not seeing the tears filling the child's eyes or hearing his whispered reply.
"That's what you always say."
My son turned ten the other day.
Said 'Thanks for the ball, dad, come on, let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?'
I said, 'Not today. I got a lot to do.'
He said, 'That's okay.'
As he walked away, I heard him say,
'I'm gonna be like him.'
The sound of little AJ dragging his feet as he walked away drew Buds attention. The boy's slumped shoulders and drooping head touched his father's heart.
'He's the reason I'm doing this,' Bud reminded himself. 'I have to provide for him.'
'And maybe make him proud of me,' an annoying little voice in his head added.
'This isn't about me, it's about providing for my family,' Bud corrected the little voice.
The voice said no more, but Bud could sense it's silent disapproval.
That settled, he turned his attention back to the books and papers strewn about on the table in front of him. He had disappointed the Admiral, the Colonel, and the Commander by his recent lapses in the courtroom. Most of all, though, he had disappointed himself. He had always given his best effort in all that he did. The recent dereliction of duty charges had hit him with the truth that his efforts had fallen off.
Yes, he was dealing with a great deal in his life, but that was no excuse for his behavior. He was extremely grateful to have been given a second chance and was going to make the most of it.
His son would never see him as the failure he considered his father.
Came from college the other day
So much like a man I just had to say,
'Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and he said with a smile,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See ya' later, can I have them, please?"
Bud continued working, his concentration closing out everything except the case he was working on. It was a simple matter, one that Singer had sneered at…one that he could of handled in his sleep his first year.
But handling things in his sleep had gotten him in trouble.
Besides, this wasn't just a case, it was the future of a fellow human being. And that human being deserved the very best that Bud Roberts had to give.
He clicked an icon on his computer to open some of the notes he had saved earlier. As he skimmed down the list of files, he noticed the one where he had stored e-mails from his dad. There were quite a few there that he had yet to answer. He'd do it when he had time…maybe send some pictures of AJ…
He finally located what he wanted and clicked to open it. Waiting,, he looked over into the living room to check on his son. The boy was sitting at the coffee table, studiously coloring as his well loved teddy bear looked on with it's single button eye. As Bud watched, AJ sighed and put his color down. He looked over at the teddy bear and frowned at it sternly, then got up and moved it onto the sofa.
"I told you I can't play right now," he told the bear, patting the furless spot on the top of it's head. "I got very important work to do."
Bud froze. From the kitchen, he heard the radio continue playing.
"I've long since retired,
My son's moved away.
Called him up just the other day.
Said, 'I'd like to see you, if you don't mind.'
He said 'I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
But the new job's a hassle and the kids got the flu,
But it's sure nice talkin' to you, dad.
It's sure nice talkin' to you.'
As I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
My boy was just like me.
He'd grown up just like me."
Harriet put away the last of the dishes and turned the radio off. She walked out of the kitchen, surprised to find no sign of Bud at the dining room table. She stopped, listening to the soft sound of humming coming from the next room. On the living room sofa, she found her husband, their sleeping son snuggled contentedly in the safety of his father's arms. Bud's eyes were closed as he continued humming. She smiled as she recognized the song and crossed the floor to join the duo on the couch. Bud opened his eyes and looked over. She kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"I hope he does."
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon.
Little boy blue and the man on the moon.
When ya' comin home, son?
I don't know when.
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then.
Dedicated to the newest priority in my life, my precious little one, who arrived to rock my world on August 9, 2002. Life will never be the same…and I wouldn't have it any other way!